Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Jared Kushner Under FBI Scrutiny In Russia Probe; Push Comes To Shove For Trump And NATO; Trump Apologizes For Leaks, Then Scolds NATO Leaders; U.K. Resumes Intelligence Sharing With U.S. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 25, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:01] PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, Michael Flynn is also under FBI investigation, the former national security adviser. And so the FBI is focus on Flynn also touches on Kushner, because he led the presidential transition's foreign policy efforts.
And Kushner's impact, as we know, grew during the transition, which one source says, he effectively ran. And the sources of both Jared and Ivanka wanted General Flynn in as national security adviser, that they were really pushing for that.
And even though he was not on the initial transition list for that job, and as we know he did get the job. And during the transition, Kushner acknowledged meeting with Russia's ambassador, along with Michael Flynn and separately with the head of a Russian bank, according to a source familiar with what transpired.
Now, neither meeting the discussed sanctions, but were instead focused on back-channel to Russia's president. But, of course, all of this is something the FBI wants to learn more about. It's not clear if the FBI plans to talk to Kushner. That is the expectation. It hasn't happened yet. But investigators believe that he would be able to provide helpful information to assist in this ongoing probe.
Now, we did contact a spokesperson on Tuesday for this story that we've been working on, and a spokesperson said that he was unaware of any investigative interests on him and hasn't been contacted, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Pam, what does it mean that he's not -- and I want to emphasize this, not the target of the investigation, but he's being scrutinized? What does that mean?
BROWN: Well, it's a very important point to make because if you're a target of the investigation that indicates that investigators have criminal information on you, enough criminal information that you will likely be charged. At this point in the investigation, that is not the case. Either you're a witness, you're a subject, or you're a target.
So at the very least in this investigation, Jared Kushner is a witness, because of his various roles and how they touch on all these different parts of the Russia probe, including the data analytics operation that Evan touched on, including his role with Michael Flynn, who was also under investigation, and including his meetings, of course, with Russians, that are of interest in this investigation.
And so it is very important to emphasize that at this stage in the investigation, and it's still actually considered very early on, even though it's been going on since July, at this stage, investigators do not have enough criminal information that they would actually be charging him. Anderson?
COOPER: And Evan, just the significance of this, I mean, what has been stated before is that this is somebody, obviously, who's currently in the White House, not like Michael Flynn or Carter Page or, you know, or Paul Manafort?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly, Anderson. Heretofore, the White House has been able to say, look, those guys that the FBI is interested in, they're not in the White House. Paul Manafort was, you know, barely in the campaign. These are things that they've been able to say.
And even recently, the president kind of had a very curious change in the way he's referring to this. He says, "As far I'm concern, you know, as far as personally, I don't know of any collusion."
So, now we're talking about his son-in-law. We're talking about someone who is very close to him. He's one of the people who have the right to walk into the Oval Office without any appointment.
So, this is a person who is very close to the president. And now -- so we're talking about bringing this investigation not only to the doorstep of the White House, inside his own family. And that makes a big difference, as far as how they're going to treat this.
COOPER: Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, appreciate the update.
Kushner's attorney has weighed in. CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is traveling with the president and joins us now from Sicily. So what is Jared Kushner's attorney saying?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's just a brief statement from Jamie Gorelick, who is the attorney for Jared Kushner. We can show it you. It says, "Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings." Talking about those meeting that Evan and Pam were talking about. "He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry." So that's an indication right there that they're fully aware.
They may no longer just be talking about congressional investigations, but the special counsel investigation being conducted by Robert Mueller, FBI and Justice Department inquiries, as well.
Anderson, we should point out that Jared Kushner and Ivanka, they were on this foreign trip. We're here in Sicily right now. The president is going to be attending the G-7 summit over the next couple of days. They jumped off of this trip yesterday. They went back after they met with the Pope there in Rome.
And the White House told us yesterday, well that was just, you know, part of the schedule. They were scheduled to go back and leave yesterday. But, obviously, Anderson, you know, this news breaking tonight is going to raise questions about that explanation.
We should also point out, when we asked for a response from the White House, Anderson, I received this response from Jamie Gorelick instantaneously, that is because, I think in part because what we're from White House officials is that they are boosting their rapid response war room operations inside the west-wing because they're trying to get out in front of this story as much as they can.
I talked to a White House official earlier today who said, "Listen, this is the reality of the world we live in. We know these questions are going to be coming in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." One person, Anderson, you're not likely to hear about -- or hear from about all of this over the next several days is the president himself.
[21:05:02] Anderson, this is the first time I've been on a foreign trip of this length for some time where the President of the United States has not taken questions in a formal setting from the news media.
There is no news conference scheduled for tomorrow, according to the White House schedule. We do not expect one to happen on Saturday, unless the White House decides to surprise us at the last minute. We are not likely to hear from the president during this trip in any kind of formal setting, in a news conference, particularly to answer these very important questions right now about his own son-in-law in his own family.
COOPER: He's still got Twitter.
ACOSTA: He still has that. That's true. That's true.
ACOSTA: So perhaps we'll hear a response that way, but not the same thing as a news conference. And it's something that we've asked the White House time and again. We were asking about this earlier today, and they said, "Well, nothing is final. You know, perhaps something might happen."
But, Anderson, I think at this point, we probably can bet on that this is not going to happen. We're going to be nine days on the road, overseas with the President of the United States. He's not taking questions in a formal setting from reporters, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks for that.
Back with the panel, Matt Lewis, David Gergen, April Ryan, Paul Begala, Scott Jennings, David Urban, Ryan Lizza and Pam Brown and Evan Perez also were staying with us.
Ryan, you're just joining us this hour. The fact that Jared Kushner is now focus -- part of this investigation, how significant is that?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's significant for the reasons that Pam and Evan were talking at the end of their appearance there. He is the most powerful person in the White House, except for the president himself, right? Jared Kushner, and of course, he's a member of Trump's family. So the investigation is now inside the White House, in a way that previous to this it wasn't. That is extremely significant.
You know, when I would ask White House officials about Manafort and Carter Page and Roger Stone, the word a senior White House official used earlier this year was, you know, we had a lot of marginalia, marginalia associated with the early part of the Trump campaign. And that was their way of sort of separating themselves from those folks.
Well, Jared Kushner is not marginal to this White House. And he was not marginal to the campaign. He essentially ran the campaign. And he, in a lot of ways, is running the Trump White House. And he can't be fired. Most aides, senior aides who are in senior positions and get mired in a scandal, well, the president can just discard them. You can't do that when he's your son-in-law.
So we obviously need to know a lot more. "The Washington Post" was very careful to say that he's not the target of the investigation, but this is a blockbuster development.
COOPER: Marginalia, I haven't heard that word. It's kind of an interesting word.
David Urban, Evan Perez was reporting that the FBI has collected data computer bots programs allegedly linked to Russia that helped push negative information to Hillary Clinton and positive information by Donald Trump.
They're looking at the Trump campaign's data analytics operation which was supervised by Jared Kushner to see if anyone knowingly or unknowingly tried to help Russia. You work for the Trump campaign. What do you make of that?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. Look, I think we're going to find -- it's all going to come out in due course, Anderson. I think that "The Post" article is obtuse at best.
I think that, as you heard described earlier by Pam that Jared is at best a witness in this. There is -- this is all going to come out. I think Director Mueller is going to do a great job. There's not going to be this leaking. I think we had breaking news last hour when Carl Bernstein of --
BROWN: By the way, I didn't say he was --
URBAN: -- of Watergate fame agreed with me that there was a problem with the FBI leaking. I think that that was kind of glossed over that there is a problem with leaks at the FBI, and that should be investigated. I don't think there's a whole lot of there, there. I think it's a slow news day. I think we're back to -- COOPER: It's actually not -- I mean, just as someone who works in the newsroom, I can tell you it's not a slow newsroom. There's actually a lot of stuff, but this is pretty big.
URBAN: Anderson, I've been around here, so let me say this with this quick piece here. Feelings aren't facts just because a lot of people in America aren't happy that Donald Trump's the president doesn't mean that something nefarious happened. And contacts don't equal collusion. So let's not lose sight of those two facts.
COOPER: I don't know that we're reporting feelings, though. These seem to be actual facts that this is actually happening.
URBAN: I'm not so sure.
COOPER: That this is actually happening.
URBAN: Yeah, sure, that meeting happened. But criminal acts happened, no, not at all.
COOPER: No, we don't know -- there's no -- we have no evidence with that --
UBRBAN: But we're sitting around for an hour talking about it like they are.
COOPER: Well, you know, what's happening is an investigation. You would not deny that there is an investigation.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And a criminal investigation.
URBAN: There is an investigation.
COOPER: OK. David Gergen, you were saying?
GERGEN: Well, I just don't think you can sweep this away as objectionable as the leaks may be. I mean, the fact is, we have rarely in the last 40 years had criminal investigations that go right into the heart of the White House.
And, you know, Jared Kushner is not a target at the moment. We all know that. But if you're the investigators on the other side, you know, he's the man who has most of the answers. All roads lead through Jared Kushner.
URBAN: And he said -- and David, he said he will cooperate --
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- is very interesting, because I have always been skeptical that there was any sort of collusion, right. Apart of the reason was, I was saying, why does Russia need anything from us or from Trump to meddle in this election? [21:10:08] They obviously can get things from WikiLeaks. They can play the media. They can -- so, I was always wondering, what would they need from Trump? What would they need from us? And that would explain it, right? This is still a hypothetical possibility.
But, it is plausible that the Trump campaign had targeting information that Russia, even with all their spies, wouldn't have. So, for example, if you are a working class guy in Wisconsin and you were getting on Facebook the day before election, you could be served a negative Hillary ad. Maybe they know that targeting, this make micro targeting, it shows that you're thinking about voting for Hillary.
COOPER: Let's not get down the road of speculation --
URBAN: Well, why couldn't the Russians -- Anderson, if the Russians have such a complex operation, if they wanted that information, why couldn't they simply hacked in and take that information? They could have. I'm just asking the question.
COOPER: Yeah. Paul?
URBAN: If they're so complex, why couldn't they have simply hacked in and taken it for that --
COOPER: All right. Again, we're getting down the road of hypothetical, which doesn't really help anybody. So let's just stick to what we actually know --
COOPER: -- which is there's an investigation underway and now Jared Kushner, you know, now his name is being thrown into it.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Here's what "The Post" says. That in addition to possible financial crimes, which is a whole different kettle of fish, which would really scare me if I were Jared Kushner's lawyer, the meetings that Jared had, which could have been, maybe were, perfectly legitimate in the transition, to meet with the Russian ambassador. I get that.
Why meet with Sergey Gorkov, the head of VEB, a controversial state- owned Russian bank that is under American sanctions. I haven't heard a good explanation. The explanation we get from White House spokespeople is, "Well, they were looking for other routes to Putin."
Well first off, they had the ambassador. I don't know any ambassador who says, "Oh, don't go through me, go through this controversial bank that American sanctions."
COOPER: Right. And we know that Jared Kushner was doing business at the same time when he was part of this transition. He was meeting with the Chinese for deals on -- for his family business.
BEGALA: So here's my advice to Jared. I'm not playing around and I would not be obtuse. This is not marginalia. Two words, don't lie. Where's the camera? Jared, don't lie. Don't lie. They'll catch you. Bob Mueller is the most thorough investigator in America. He will know everything about this. He has the entire apparatus of national security and the FBI at his disposal. He will catch you.
And what's the chances that when you met with that Russian banker, he taped the meeting? So if you lie about what happened in the meeting, he could hold a perjury rap over your head. Just don't lie, Jared. Don't lie.
RYAN: Which is exactly what happened with Michael Flynn, Paul, right?
RYAN: Well, Michael Flynn, when he met with Sergey Kislyak, the ambassador, and then lied about the -- apparently lied to his superiors at the White House. Well, both the United States government and the Russian government had a transcript of that call, and is what sort of busted him and led to him eventually being dismissed.
COOPER: Scott, just in terms of moving forward for this White House, I mean, a White House that obviously wants to get its legislative agenda through, wants to make great accomplishments and help the country, how much does this bog things down? And how do they get around that?
I mean, Paul's talked in the past about Bill Clinton's ability to kind of segregate things to, you know, to compartmentalize parts of the White House. David, I think, had talked about -- or John Dean had talked about the Richard Nixon White House has being very compartmentalized. Is this White House as compartmentalized?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSHL: It may not be yet, but it needs to be. And the one thing politically that the Trump White House has going for it is out where I live in the middle of the country, people voted in the November election as a rejection of incrementalism. For the last six years of the Obama administration, we had policy incrementalism in this country.
The election was a major rejection of that. That still exists. And now we're bogged down in the middle of investigations and all this stuff. And guess what? Nobody out there in the country who's getting up and going to work every day, paying a mortgage, worrying about their kids' school. This doesn't impact their daily life. They want to see Washington working on things that do impact their daily life. So if I were the Trump White House --
JENNINGS: If I were the Trump White House, part of compartmentalizing this means marshaling those people that put him in the White House to demand that Washington compartmentalize this.
Sure, let's have an investigation. Let's get the facts. But let's not let it get in the way of the message that was sent in November, which is, we don't want to have policy incrementalism. We have to have change -- COOPER: April, you know this White House well. I mean, are they able to compartmentalize, at this point?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not at all. They -- there is a big learning curve. We talk about that all the time. They're trying to deflect on a lot of issues. They're also trying to put things forward. They're trying to deal with ACA. They're trying to deal with the wall. But this is an albatross around their neck. And Paul and I were at the White House together at the time of the Ken Starr investigation.
[21:15:07] And Paul, as a reporter, I remember that this president, at the time, Bill Clinton, could not really push a lot of the initiatives through, because that was really hanging over the head of the administration. But also, at the same time, they tried to move things through, but what was the overshadowing piece, that Ken Starr investigation.
COOPER: David Gergen, I mean, you've worked in White Houses under investigation.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And listen, the Republicans still control the House and the Senate, right? And if things are bogged down, you can't blame Mueller and the investigation, nor even the leaks, frankly. You know, they've got very controversial legislation up there and the president needs to take a leave when he gets back.
But I keep wondering. And Paul, I'd be curious about your view on this. Should Jared Kushner think about taking a leave of absence while he clears this up, because it's going to be such a distraction inside the White House? And he is radioactive.
BEGALA: I hadn't thought of that, he might have to. He seems able, and there's a dearth of able people in that building, if you ask me. And perhaps so, I hadn't thought about it. But I do know he can't talk -- he oughtn't talk to the president about this investigation. And no one on the staff should talk to him about it, either, because they could be called. And you don't want to be accused of trying to --
GERGEN: I agree with that.
BEGALA: It's so different from a campaign. And David knows this. On the campaign, you're trying to get everybody on the same message. When you're in a criminal investigation and you get everybody on the same message, that's called obstruction of justice and that's witness tampering.
COOPER: You work for George W. Bush, (inaudible), how White House's work? What would be your advice?
JENNINGS: He served at the pleasure of the president. And when you're a commissioned officer, you take an oath and you take an oath to serve the constitution. But when you're in those jobs, you're there because the president has trust in you and confidence in you. And the minute you he doesn't have trust and confidence and you lose the pleasure, you're out.
And so I think as long as Jared Kushner has the trust and confidence of the president, he ought to stay in his job. But I think he ought to talk to the president about things that if he feels like he's being impeded from doing the tasks that the president has given him, then they do need to deal with that, because that's was pointed out.
He has been given a lot of important things to work on. I mean, it's a major part of every piece of the Trump agenda that Kushner is involved in. I am very uncomfortable with the concept, though, of someone being forced to take a leave of absence based on an anonymously sourced deal. He's a witness. He may have information.
It strikes me that we've got carts way out in front of horses on this deal. And the concept of people being run out of their jobs, who have very important positions, I just -- I think we're well premature on that.
BEGALA: I do think this is different in this sense. I don't know if he should take a leave of absence. But David first raised it and I didn't even think about it. When Karl Rove was under investigation and he was cleared, people should know that. Karl was cleared of wrongdoing, but he was under investigation.
At least I -- and I was Democrat. I hate (inaudible), but I had confidence that George W. Bush was a disciplined enough man not to talk to Karl about what he was being investigated for. I wasn't there, but I actually believed that. I believe neither Karl nor the president crossed that line.
I don't have enough confidence in Donald Trump to keep his stupid mouth shut and not obstruct justice or tamper with the witness when his witness is the son-in-law.
RYAN: That is the point. It is not -- everyone at the table is talking about it like it's a nice package with a pretty bow. This president does not know boundaries, still. And we are finding out day after day.
And the question is, really, is it about Jared Kushner possibly taking a leave of absence because his father-in-law is not able to handle the magnitude and the gravity of what really is at stake.
JENNINGS: That's the problem with the compartmental --
RYAN: But that's not my opinion, that's what I'm reporting and I see every day.
JENNINGS: I hear you, but guess what --
RYAN: And Republicans are also concerned. You have donors who are concerned at this moment. And you -- and so people are very -- it's not a partisan issue.
JENNINGS: I hear you, but here's the deal. He won the election and he's going to be president -- RYAN: It's not about the election. It's about what's happening right now.
JENNING: It is, because when you get an election, you get four years to enact an agenda. And to sit here and say, "Oh, well, we don't trust that he gets the boundaries so he can't do this, that, and the other." Well guess what, that wasn't the judgment of the American people.
RYAN: But there is this proof. What happened with the Russians in the Oval Office? What happened there? What happened with James Comey? Please, help me. Help me understand.
JENNINGS: I wasn't there and you weren't there, but guess what --
RYAN: But I reported on it.
JENNINGS: The president --
RYAN: But the president tweeted about it. Did the president tweet --
JENNINGS: -- it's his prerogative to have a conversation that he --
RYAN: The president said, we hope this is not recorded, on Twitter. He did that to himself. He told the world. So do you believe he understands boundaries? There are examples that the president has given us himself.
JENNINGS: Here's what I think. Donald Trump ran a campaign and the central message was --
RYAN: This is not about the campaign.
JENNINGS: I hate Washington. It's not you --
RYAN: Let's stay on the issue. This is not about the campaign. This is about now.
JENNINGS: I think you have a valid point. But here's where I'm going. His whole message and the reason he's in the White House is basically I'm going to turn around Washington, D.C. I'm going to turn it upside down. And I think that most of his supporters think that if you're going to turn upside down Washington, D.C., its going -- official D.C. is going to fight back.
[21:20:02] RYAN: People wanted something new, but they didn't know --
COOPER: Let's not relitigate the campaign. JENNINGS: But I think it's important to understand the reason that he is there still matters today, because as he tries to hold together --
RYAN: There's a learning curve for this president longer and probably deeper than others.
GERGEN: Don't you think he deserves some of the responsibility for him getting all of this mess going? Don't you think he has some? I mean, this isn't -- yeah, this isn't a virgin birth of an investigation. I mean, this came, you know, from a lot of the things. It happened with people around him, people who are reporting to him.
We don't know, but when you have a criminal investigation that involves a lot of people right now and has been going on for, what, 10 months or so, and they still don't seem to be close -- anywhere close to the end, he bears some responsibility as president for making this happen.
COOPER: We've got to take a break. We have much more ahead. Ryan Lizza and Paul Begala spoke on marginalia. We'll focus more on just how un-marginal Jared Kushner is. We'll be right back.
COOPER: In saying that Jared Kushner is now a focus in the FBI's Russia probe, we should underscore that "a focus" is not the same as saying "the focus" or "the target." All the same, he is certainly now under greater scrutiny. And even before tonight, he was the focus of enormous attention, seemingly because of his elevated position and how he got there.
Joining us now to talk about is "New York" magazine's Andrew Rice. Andrew, hard to understate the importance of Kushner to the Trump family and the Trump White House. Your cover story on him was called "President-in-law."
ANDREW RICE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yeah. And, in fact, during the time period when I was reporting this story was really when all of these meetings had now become the subject of federal investigation, reportedly were taking place. So I can give a little context as to sort of what Jared Kushner was doing during that time period.
You know, he really was running everything in the transition and micromanaging it, I think, to a degree that professional political people probably wouldn't have done, but he was coming from a completely different kind of background and thought that, you know, he was going to disrupt the political transition process in the same way that he disrupted the campaign, in his opinion.
COOPER: About Kushner, you wrote, "Above all, he and Trump share a clannish outlook on life, business, and politics." Which is -- it's interesting, this whole clannish nature of -- sort of the way the White House is being operated, the way their -- both of their businesses were being operated. How do you think this news, this under scrutiny by the FBI, how does that factor into this?
[21:25:02] RICE: Well, I mean, I think that for both Jared and Donald Trump, this whole ethic of sort of family first and the people within the family being really the people that you trust with the post important decisions, even if they're not necessarily within their realm of previous expertise, is a theme that we've really seen throughout this administration.
I think that one thing that's important to mention with Jared and when you talk about sort of that family, you know, clannish ethic, part of it is about that family loyalty ethic, ironically, has to do with his experience of going through a federal investigation with his own father, who ended up going to prison.
So there is -- so, really, one thing that I think, when you hear these reports about Jared being under federal investigation, he's seen this before. He's seen what being under investigation by the FBI can do to a person and can do to a family.
And so, therefore, you know, I think that it's just an important thing to keep in mind, as -- that he had this experience and he felt, perhaps he's one of the few people who felt this way, but he felt that his father was a victim of persecution by the FBI.
COOPER: Is it clear -- I mean, you know, he -- few people have probably even heard him speak. It's not known really what his positions are on things, which is rare for someone who's so close to the president and such an adviser. Is it -- I mean, how smart has he been in the world of business and I guess in the world of politics? Is it known?
RICE: Well, I mean, he's 36 years old. I mean -- which is, you know, not an enormous amount of time to amass a track record. He's been fairly successful in the realm of commercial real estate. He's had some missteps, too.
His largest investment within the realm of commercial real estate was in this building called 666 Fifth, which I think, you know, has come back to haunt him a little bit in the more recent times, because, basically, in the effort to find equity partners to kind of help them out on that investment, which is not been very successful, he went to this Chinese insurance company that -- with links to the government and it caused sort of things that would have been beyond question, you know, things that you could do if you were just a private business person, suddenly became sort of verboten for Jared Kushner in government. And I think he's had trouble, you know, at least initially, of figuring out what that line between public and private interest is.
COOPER: Andrew Rice, appreciate you joining us. Thank you.
Joining us now is Fareed Zakaria, host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Also CNN Political Analyst and Investigator Reporter Carl Bernstein and "The New York Times'" Matthew Rosenberg
So, Fareed, now that the Russia investigation really is inside the White House, I mean, you can't overstate how close Kushner is to the president.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": No. Kushner is really the deputy president. I mean, it's absolutely clear that the president relies on him, trusts him, as we saw, in the most important and interesting power struggle that took place in the White House in the early weeks.
Steve Bannon, who had seemed the ideologist in chief, the strategist in chief, had been given these lofty titles, was instantly sidelined when he crossed Jared Kushner, and Trump did something I don't recall any president ever doing, publicly humiliating an aide of his, while instead of keeping him on, by letting the "New York Post" know just what he thought of him, which was to say, compared with Jared Kushner, this guy is a Johnny-come-lately. I don't, you know, I don't have that much -- those many bonds with him.
So Kushner is absolutely central. And he continues in a pattern that remains a little mystifying. I think it's important to say, as you have, you know, we know nothing about anything -- any actual wrongdoing. But what is striking is the pattern of a number of high level meetings that took place with this one country, Russia.
I don't know of -- perhaps there were, but there certainly do not seem to be in the public realm or knowledge, meeting -- similar meetings with the Chinese ambassador, the British ambassador, the French ambassador. The French ambassador is a very powerful, well-collected figure in Washington.
There's all these meetings with the Russians. And almost all of them, the person involved in the Trump campaign somehow forgot to report it in the security clearances, to the public, and then sort of fudged it with somebody else --
COOPER: Right. Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner.
ZAKARIA: Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner. So, there's just -- and then you add to it, as I've always said, the central puzzle of the Trump foreign policy, which is, why is he so nice to Russia? Why was -- throughout the campaign, a guy who kept berating every country for swindling the United States, who goes to NATO today, to our closest allies, and basically reads them the Riot Act, but somehow has always had this soft spot for Russia?
COOPER: Matthew Rosenberg, I mean, the fact that Jared Kushner didn't disclose meetings with Russia on his security clearance application, that is not helpful at least for the optics of all this.
[21:30:05] I mean, they did then go back and, you know, point out that it was sent into early or something.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There are real questions here and they have yet to be answered. And, you know, one thing is we focus on the meetings with Kislyak, the ambassador, and are important, but he also in December met with a Russian banker --
ROSENBERG: -- who runs VEB. It's a bank that's sanctioned by the U.S., close to the Kremlin. The banker he met with attended the Russian intelligence academy.
I mean, these are real questions. Why are you meeting with this guy? What did you hope to gain? Was it surely a business thing? This bank is under sanctioned. Was there something else there?
And I don't know if there's so -- it's not so easy to block. You didn't need co-associates or private investigators to figure out who the banker was. So, literally, the first page of Google results if you put in his name comes up with all of this information.
And, Anderson, you know, I think -- like Fareed said, there are real questions here. And -- but they were constantly kind of wouldn't acknowledge it. It was like this would dribble out. "Oh, yeah, we did meet with that guy. Oh, yeah, no, that thing we said we didn't do, we did do." It becomes, you know, it just -- it raises more questions and I think they're going to keep getting them.
COOPER: Carl, I mean, Jared Kushner's attorney points out that he's already volunteered to talk to Congress about this. They say he'll do the same with any other inquiries. Should he be cut some slack in the meantime or not?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we have to look at Kushner as someone who's entitled to a presumption of legal innocence until we know otherwise. But we also know that he is the key to understanding both the Trump organization and the campaign's finances that the Trump organization, that Donald Trump, that the Kushner family, all were in search of loans for a long time.
And the FBI, for a while, as have reporters, have been trying to find out what loans from Russian oligarchs, from Russian entities, from ethno-Russians went to the Trumps, to the Kushners, to the Trump organizations.
There's the old thing about follow the money, but we also have in this investigation by the press, particularly, follow the lies. Follow the money, follow the lies because there has been so much lying.
And earlier, David Urban, a Trump surrogate, talked about the notion that the press is doing this because they're getting all these leaks. In fact, what the press has been doing is following the lies and following the money because there are investigators who are convinced that a cover up is going on.
It doesn't mean there's an obstruction of justice. What is being covered up? We don't know. That's one of the things Robert Mueller is going to try and find out. What is being covered up?
COOPER: And Matthew, Jared Kushner was --
BERNSTEIN: And Kushner is key to answering. COOPER: Matthew, during the transition, Jared Kushner was still doing
business for his father's company, for his family's company. I mean, they were -- he was meeting with -- if memory serves me correct, with Chinese -- potential Chinese investors in one of his buildings and it was a Chinese company that had links to the government.
And I think it was a Chinese company that when they bought a hotel in New York, it was a hotel that President Obama would no longer stay in. I think it was the Waldorf Astoria, because they were afraid that maybe that company had put bugging devices in at the behest of the Chinese government, if memory serves.
ROSENBERG: Absolutely. And, you know, his -- this actually raises the question of what are the qualifications that Kushner brings to the White House. And I think that is something that we don't spend a lot of time talking about. We do have to address.
I think this is always can be a problem or a challenge when Trump was running for president is that, this is somebody who surrounds himself with family members. But this isn't something that's usual.
You know, you may not have agreed with people in the Obama White House. You may not agree with people in the Bush White House. But everybody who was in senior positions had spent a lifetime working in the government, thinking about the world, maybe working in private business, but they were engaged with the world.
They weren't running small -- I mean, I guess they're big real estate empires in one city. And I think that inexperience shows, because if you knew more about the world, you knew more about how the government worked and how, you know, diplomatic relations worked, you wouldn't have stumbled into meetings with Russian bankers and that's a long time.
COOPER: Fareed, I mean, I think Matthew makes an interesting point. I mean, not only is there no political experience here. These are people who were working for their father's company. I mean, this is somebody who inherited the position and, you know, I assume he's very competent and continued doing fine, but it's not as if he created his own company on his own.
ZAKARIA: And, you know, the point of Matthew is making -- I think it's very important to think about the three countries in a way that we've been talking about recently, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia. These are all three countries that have in their foreign policies around the world routinely bribed the family members of the leaders of the countries they deal with.
If you watch Russian foreign policy in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, that is what they do. If you watch Chinese foreign policy in Asia and Africa, that is what they do. And if you watch Saudi foreign policy almost everywhere, that's what they do.
[21:35:12] They're used to this idea that you find a business associate of the leader, a relative, perhaps, you make an investment, you make a donation. So this is a standard operating procedure for Russia, for China, for Saudi Arabia. But it's never been something that happened in the United States.
And you would think that for somebody like Jared Kushner, who would have more experience, you would be very conscious of that reality and be very conscious to draw very sharp lines, build very clear boundaries not have any insinuation, because this is standard operating procedure for the Chinese government. This is standard operating procedure for the Saudis.
COOPER: That's fascinating. Fareed Zakaria, Carl Bernstein, Matthew Rosenberg, thank you so much.
Just ahead, more about what this all means in a legal sense for Jared Kushner. Our legal panel weighs in.
COOPER: Well, the breaking news tonight. The FBI'S Russia investigation has moved inside the White House and into the Trump family. Jared Kushner, the president's close adviser and son-in-law is now a focus in the FBI'S collusion probe. We say "a focus," not "the focus," not "a target," not "a suspect."
Investigators are focusing on Mr. Kushner's multiple roles in the campaign and the transition. His lawyer says that Jared Kushner is willing to talk to investigators or it has been and to share information with them if contacted. This new twist comes as the White House is ramping up its war office to respond to information coming out of the multiple Russia investigations that are underway.
Joining me now is Jeffrey Toobin, Alan Dershowitz. David Urban is also back with us. And joining us on the phone is former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who's also served a as a federal judge.
Attorney General Mukasey, let's start with you. So we should, again, I just want to point out Jared Kushner is not a suspect here, he's not a person of interest, he is just, we're told, a focus. They want to speak to him, because he would basically, it seems like, a witness. What do you make of this?
MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL (via telephone): What I make of it is if you read back what you just said, you used two terms that are unknown to any federal investigator.
[21:40:02] Person of interest is not a term that any federal investigator ever uses and it's not a term that's appropriate to this investigation. This is a national security investigation. It's not a criminal investigation.
In criminal investigations there are three kinds of folks that the authorities talk to. Witnesses, who may have some facts that they're interested in investigating. Subjects, who may be looked at because it's possible that they committed crimes. And targets, who are people who said they've already got enough evidence to indict, but as to whom they are still conducting an investigation. None of those terms is appropriate here, because this is a national security investigation. It's not a criminal investigation. And so, pretty much everybody is a witness.
Now, what are they a witness to? They're probably a witness to the fact that the Russians were trying to get close to influence people of influence. That's what they do. That is not, in itself, surprising.
COOPER: So --
MUKASEY: What is perfectly appropriate, obviously, is for the FBI to investigate and find out the extent to which they might have actually influenced somebody I assume is what they're doing
COOPER: Jeff Toobin?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think the attorney general makes an excellent point about this term, "person of interest," which is this sort of media term that is not familiar to those of us who have practiced in the federal courts.
However, I think, you know, Attorney General Mukasey is very much wrong that this is just a national security investigation and not a grand jury investigation for criminality. There have already been subpoenas sent out from the Eastern District of Virginia connected to the Flynn matter. So this is very much a criminal investigation.
MUKASEY: The Flynn matter is something separate from this.
TOOBIN: Well, so say you. I mean, how do you know that's the case? I mean, this is all going to come under Mueller's jurisdiction.
MUKASEY: No doubt it will.
TOOBIN: He is going to have to sort it out. But to say that this is not related to a criminal investigation, I just think that's -- you're assuming a conclusion that, you know, may or may not turn out to be the case.
MUKASEY: I think absent evidence, it's the only thing you can conclude about what they're actually doing.
COOPER: Well, didn't Lindsey Graham said he believes this is now a criminal investigation? Professor Dershowitz, what do you think?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think that Attorney General Mukasey is absolutely right. This is being done backwards and it raises great concerns about civil liberties. Usually, you can point to a statute and say, we're investigating crime under this statute.
What Mueller seems to be doing is saying, "We don't like what happened? Maybe there was some collaboration. But I can't figure out what statute was being violated." You know, when Hillary Clinton was being investigated, at least we knew what the statute was --
TOOBIN: But, Alan, he's been --
(CROSSTALK) TOOBIN: What's the statute? I don't get it. He's been working for a week, how are you expecting him to have decided what statutes that he's --
DERSHOWITZ: Wait, wait. There was an investigation before he started working. But don't you agree that there's a danger?
COOPER: One at a time.
DERSHOWITZ: Don't you agree there's a great danger to civil liberties when you say, let's investigate and maybe we'll find something that we can find a statute to fit. That's not the way it ought to happen.
And if I was Jared Kushner's lawyer, and his lawyer is a terrific lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, who was my student, I would say, first to the investigators, "Before you talk to my client, I want to know what your authority is? What your jurisdiction is? What statute you're looking at?"
TOOBIN: Here's a statute. You want a statute? Aiding and abetting hacking. It's a crime. There were also --
DERSHOWITZ: Oh, come on. You have to show evidence. You're just making that up. You have to show evidence, not only that they knew about the hacking, but they worked hand in glove with them. You're just making it up. There's no evidence of any crime. I search the statutes, but I cannot find it.
TOOBIN: Alan, every national -- wait, let me finish. Let me talk. At national security -- every national security apparatus in the American government has said the Russian government initiated this campaign to defeat Hillary Clinton, part of which was hacking into the DNC, hacking into John Podesta's e-mails.
We also have an extraordinary number of contacts between Trump campaign officials, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, with Russian government and Russian-affiliated people. Was there a nexus between who they were talking too and the hacking? I don't know yet. That's why we have investigations.
URBAN: Jeff, I take umbrage of the notion that extraordinary. Define extraordinary, Jeffrey. There were contacts. What is extraordinary in your mind?
TOOBIN: What is extraordinary? Why was Jared Kushner meeting with bank, you know --
URBAN: But how that's extraordinary. You said there were an extraordinary number, so tell me --
COOPER: I think the comparison is to say, meeting with, you know, with Chinese officials or French officials, how many times they meet with the French ambassador or French bankers. I think that's the issue --
TOOBIN: And why went asked about it, every one of them seems to either lie or forget or not disclose and they all have complicated explanations for why they didn't disclose it.
[21:45:09] As every prosecutor knows, when you don't disclose something, one explanation is consciousness of guilt. This is why you have an investigation.
DERSHOWITZ: But, Jeffrey --
COOPER: Go ahead, Professor.
DERSHOWITZ: Jeffrey, do you really believe that anybody in the Trump campaign worked with the Russians and told them to target the DNC, to tell them how to do it? That they facilitated that? I think the worst-case scenario --
TOOBIN: I don't know.
DERSHOWITZ: -- is that they were like WikiLeaks or "The Washington Post." You don't know, but that's not the basis for having a criminal investigation. I don't know.
TOOBIN: Well, for example, you had the candidate Trump saying, "Go, WikiLeaks." Saying, "I think WikiLeaks is doing a great job." Is that enough evidence for you?
DERSHOWITZ: Does that sound like a crime to you?
TOOBIN: I don't know.
DERSHOWITZ: No, of course not. That's just talk. For it to be a crime --
TOOBIN: You're here to explain.
DERSHOWITZ: Jeffrey, I'm not explaining you the way. I just want to go to the evidence before you had some --
TOOBIN: That's fact. That's a fact.
DERSHOWITZ: I don't like criminal investigations to start on hoping that you have the target, maybe we'll find the crime, maybe we'll find the statute and if we can't find the statute, we'll stretch the statute to fit the person. That sounds like Lavrentiy Beria and Joseph Stalin. Show me the man and I'll find you the crime. I don't want to ever see that come to America.
TOOBIN: Neither do I.
URBAN: And Jeffrey, I don't want to beat this horse, but we all remember senator -- late Senator Ted Stevens and what happened in this town was an aberration and should never be forgotten by anyone. TOOBIN: I covered that case extensively and it was a terrible performance by the Justice Department. But to say that Robert Mueller, who is perhaps the most honored --
URBAN: I'm not impugning Robert Mueller. I'm not impugning Robert Mueller, Jeffrey.
COOPER: Let me bring in Attorney General Mukasey. Attorney General, now that Kushner -- I mean, can Jared Kushner talk about any aspect of this with the president or with anyone in the White House for that matter?
MUKASEY: It is, as they say, a free country. You can talk to whomever you like. The fact is that foreign countries try to influence people of influence. They do it. Russians do it. The Israelis do it. The Chinese do it.
As a matter of fact, I can recall a group of Americans who went over to Israel to try to influence the outcome of the Israeli elections. It happens. That is a perfectly proper subject for a national security investigation.
On the other hand, when somebody misrepresents on his FF86, who he's had contact with and conceals things from people who have a right to know them, that's a violation of a specific title and a specific section, Section 1001 of Title 18. It's a false statement to a federal officer. That is a crime.
But simply being influenced or being approached by somebody who wants to influence you is not a crime. And so far as benefiting from somebody else's crime as the Republicans may very well have benefited from the Russian's crime, is not in itself a crime.
TOOBIN: I think the attorney general is exactly right. I mean, you know, these are -- I mean, 1001 making false statements on the security clearance application is a crime if it's done intentionally and with bad intent. But, this is why we have an investigation. We don't go on cable T.V. the week after Robert Mueller has been appointed and say, "Well, there's nothing here."
COOPER: We've got to leave it there. I appreciate the discussion.
Coming up, the president lecturing NATO allies, also an interesting moment where he seemed to push aside a foreign leader. The latest on his trip to Brussels, next.
[21:52:33] COOPER: Again, the breaking news from the top of the hour, CNN has learned the president's close adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is now a focus in the FBI's Russian collusion probe, not the focus. Investigators, we are told are looking at Kushner's multiple roles in the campaign as well as well as the transition. This comes as President Trump is heading to the final stretch of his first overseas trip as commander-in-chief. At a meeting of NATO leaders at Brussels today, he hit some turbulence for starters Mr. Trump got an earful from British Prime Minister Theresa May about intelligence that was leaked after Britain shared it with the U.S. in regards the bombing in Manchester. Mr. Trump also did some scolding of his own in Brussels. Jeff Zeleny has details.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump facing tough questions tonight over whether the U.S. can be trusted with sensitive intelligence. British officials outraged, blaming the U.S. for leaking operational intelligence of the Manchester bombing to the press.
Arriving at NATO headquarters in Brussels, British Prime Minister Theresa May made clear the incident was a test of a special relationship with the U.S.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will be making clear to President Trump today that intelligence that is shared between law enforcement agencies must remain secure.
ZELENY (voice-over): The president did not take questions from reporters today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can the British trust America with intelligence?
ZELENY (voice-over): But later issued a statement calling the leaks deeply troubling. He said, "The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security."
He asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak and offered an apology saying, "There is no relationship we cherish more than the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom." It was an embarrassing moment for the president's debut on the world stage.
Mr. Trump sizing up some leaders for the first time, including new French President Emmanuel Macron. His labored handshake before the two went off for a private lunch.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
ZELENY (voice-over): The president then proceeds to lecture his counterparts about their contributions to the alliance. The awkward tension was clear.
TRUMP: 23 three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they're supposed to be paying for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.
ZELENY (voice-over): The president's tongue lashing hardly out of the blue given his campaign rhetoric about NATO's mission.
TRUMP: I never studied NATO big but I said two things, it's obsolete and the United States is paying too much. Many of these nations --
ZELENY (voice-over): But, today, his scolding tone seemed to fall flat with many of his fellow leaders as he condemned many countries for not paying their full share.
[21:55:09] TRUMP: We have to make up for the many years lost. Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today's very real and very vicious threats.
ZELENY (voice-over): After his remarks, the president making a brash first impression, as leaders strolled through NATO's new headquarters. At one point, President Trump elbowing his way to the front of the pack.
COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny reporting.
We should point out late tonight, U.K. authorities agreed to resume intelligence sharing with the U.S. Lots to discuss. Fareed Zakaria is back.
You know, the president had talked about NATO funding on the campaign trail a lot, interesting to see him talking about it in front of the leaders there.
ZAKARIA: Yeah. And there's something that's kind of a big misperception that he's propagating, which is it's not as if this -- if these countries met their 2 percent marks, it's not as if the U.S. would have to pay less. The United States pays what it wants because we want to have the world's most powerful military. We want to dominate in Asia. We want to dominate in the seven seas, the Arctic, and the Antarctic.
If Belgium were to build more border, you know, have more border troops, we're not going to spend less. In fact, you know, we can almost pose this question to Donald Trump, if they were to do it, would he cut the American defense budget? No, of course, not. So, yes, the Europeans should do more, but the United States spends what it wants to spend because it wants to be the global military power.
COOPER: It also sounds like the president is not only looking for them to pay 2 percent, that he also wants back pay.
ZAKARIA: Yeah. He keeps saying --
COOPER: That seems to be a new --
ZAKARIA: --in his private meetings with Merkel. He kept making this point. And, you know, the whole thing is, first, loony in the sense that it's never going to happen. Nobody it going to, you know, pay back arrears. This is not a country club.
But, it also misses I think something very profound about NATO. I think Trump almost thinks he's in a bizarre where he is haggling over a price and if he makes outlandish claims, you know, he'll get a better deal. But NATO is also a very powerful deterrent to Russia and its aggression, to China, to terrorists everywhere, to -- you know, it's been fighting for 15 years in Afghanistan.
He's undermining that function of NATO because foreign policy doesn't operate simply at one level. You're operating at several levels. And instead, Trump almost thinks he's just in a bizarre trying to haggle for the best price. And if he just shames these people publicly, it will work. A, it won't work. And, B, you're undermining the core institution.
COOPER: Which is interesting, because that's exactly what Russia has wanted to do for decades, to undermine NATO.
ZAKARIA: If you were to construct a Russian plan to say what would you like the American president to do to destroy NATO? It would be to go to NATO headquarters and publicly, you know, highlight divisions, berate the countries and refuse to affirm Article V, which says we will come to your defense. Trump did all of that.
COOPER: The White House has pushed back on the fact that he didn't mention Article V, the NATO treaty, which is obviously the bedrock section of the NATO alliance. They said, you know, that he was speaking at the September 11 Memorial and he did mention the Article V at that September 11 Memorial.
ZAKARIA: How hard would it be for him to do it again? The whole world was waiting to hear him say it. All European countries were waiting to hear him say it, had communicated this to the United States that this is what they wanted to hear from Trump. Instead, they get a lecture about, you know, about dollars and cents and who's paying 2 percent and who's not.
And by the way, a point that President Obama made, his Defense Secretary Robert Gates made, and is a legitimate point. But I would guarantee the United States would not spend one penny less. The United States is not going to build any fewer aircraft carriers because Belgium starts paying more for its stuff.
COOPER: What do you make of the moment where he seemed to push past or aside the leader of Montenegro, the prime minister?
ZAKARIA: You know, it was to me kind of a symbol for what I thought was awkward about the whole trip, which was, here you have the President of the United States, the world's oldest democracy, the leader of the free world, he goes to the Arab world, he goes to Saudi Arabia, which is really a medieval monarchy that, you know, is literally out of --
COOPER: When he was critical about the campaign trail.
ZAKARIA: And talks about how wonderful these countries are, how great it's all going to be, how the United States is firmly behind you. Subcontract American foreign policy almost to Saudi Arabia and it's very sectarian.
COOPER: For somebody who's attacking radical Islam, I mean the Saudis, you know, pretty high up there.
ZAKARIA: This is the birth place. This is the great thunder, financier, ideologist in chief. Then he comes to Europe to -- the United States is traditional, democratic allies and he's brusque, and he's rude and he pushes them aside. The whole symbolism between those to me is, you almost felt like you kind of got it backwards, affirm the Europeans and be a little stern with the Arab autocrats.
COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, thanks very much. Time to hand things over now to Don Lemon and "CNN Tonight.